Neck pain is a common complaint experienced by many and is often the result of ageing. This is due to our cervical spine degenerating due to age, resulting in arthritis in the body. When arthritis happens in the neck, it is called neck arthritis or medically known as cervical spondylosis. One important thing to note is that cervical spondylosis is often non-life threatening. In this article, we will discuss about the causes, symptoms and treatments available for cervical spondylosis.
As we age, degeneration occurs and the interverterbral discs located between our spinal disks will start to lose its moisture content, reducing the shock absorption abilities. When this occurs, it causes the collapse of disk spaces as well as the shortening of the disk space. With a poor shock absorption capability, wear and tear will cause the cartilage to wear off rapidly, resulting in a direct abrasion between bones. The body will not allow for this to happen and thus, it begins to grow new bones. Over a period of time, bone overgrowth or bone spurs will occur and this will cause stenosis.
Different people will experience different sets of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. It can get worse from simple actions such as lifting your head up. Some common symptoms include experiencing pain and stiffness in the neck which gets amplified through actions, numbness in the arms and hands which is an indication of nerve injury, muscle spasms and migraines. It can get better with rest or medication.
Treatment is classified into 2 groups namely surgical and non-surgical with the latter being preferred. Non-surgical treatments include physiotherapy and medication. Physiotherapy aims to strengthen the already weak muscles and correct the body’s posture. It is often scheduled thrice a week for at least 8 weeks. Sometimes, medication will be prescribed to help combat inflammation and reduce pain to a tolerable level. Acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants are the usual few to help to control pain.
Surgical treatments are often the last resort and are reserved for those who are suffering from extreme pain and no other non-surgical treatments are able to help at all. This is due to the high risk involved in the surgery and the high cost involved, which makes it almost impossible financially for many. Surgical procedures such as spinal fusion, foraminotomy and laminectomy are commonly performed to either reduce the pressure off the spine or remove the excess bone spurs.